Saints and Holy People

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Saint Hallvard (c. 1020–1043)

Saint Hallvard (c. 1020–1043)

Patron saint of Oslo

Feast day: May 15

Saint Hallvard was a brave young man of faith—both faith in God and faith in innocence. One day Hallvard was preparing to cross a fjord (a body of water in Norway) in a boat, when a woman falsely accused of theft ran up to him. Hallvard took her aboard the boat but didn’t have time to leave before her pursuers rushed up and demanded that he return her to them. Hallvard refused because he believed the woman when she said she was innocent. For his belief he was killed with an arrow, the same arrow that killed the accused woman. Saint Hallvard became revered by the people as a martyr because he had died in defense of innocence.

Since the Middle Ages, the image of Saint Hallvard has appeared on the City Seal of Oslo, Norway. On the seal, Hallvard is pictured holding the arrows that killed him and the young woman, as well as a millstone. This is a symbol of the millstone that his killers hung around his neck before they plunged his dead body into the fiord. His body refused to sink and so his martyrdom was discovered.

His body was later retrieved and given a proper burial. The young woman's body had been buried on the beach.) The young woman's body is also pictured on the seal.  The greatest honor bestowed by the City of Oslo, the Saint Hallvard Medal, has been named after Saint Hallvard since 1950.

Saint Hallvard's feast day, May 15, is also known today as "Oslo Day." (From Saints Passionate and Peculiar [Saint Mary’s Press])

(Image in public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)